Thomas J. Kemly

“It really isn’t that much work….it’s pretty easy… not much happens other than the normal meetings”

Those were the words our President John McWeeney, Jr.  said four years ago when he asked me to consider going through the NJBankers Chairs.  In a now common phrase heard nearly every day….FAKE NEWS!

This past year has seen a multitude of unique and challenging issues for the New Jersey banks. First, a continuing legal challenge to have the opportunity for our community banks to more easily support political candidates, an invaluable tool that lets our voices be heard in Trenton and at the national level on issues that affect our industry. Then, a sudden acceleration of the idea of a State Bank, that deserves a lot of attention from our membership to ensure this questionable idea remains just that… a questionable idea. But if that wasn’t enough, we now have what will likely be the single most challenging event that any of us will experience in our personal careers and likely in the history of our institutions…COVID-19…a pandemic that threatens our entire world, personally, corporately, and society in general. 

As I sit here today, I am working at home… “sheltered at home”, as is my entire company. We are desperately trying to fund the Paycheck Protection Program, we are implementing bailout and support programs for all of our customers at a level that has never been experienced before, while trying to protect the health and well-being of our coworkers, colleagues, customers, and families.  It is perhaps the single most challenging event that any of us, or our companies, will ever experience. “I hope you’re safe” is our new way of greeting people; “stay safe” is how we end a conversation or email.  It’s scary and you feel the constant threat in every activity and every discussion.

You’ve heard me express my gratitude to this industry and pride in being a Community Banker. I greatly admire each and every institution in this state, both large and small, and am proud to personally be a part of, work with, and amongst the institutions that support our state in tremendous ways with products, services and vast community support. We are the engine that drives our economic success. So now, as we face the greatest challenge of our lives, I want to express my gratitude to each and every member for your remarkable response to this terrible pandemic. Each member, in their own way, has risen above and beyond to demonstrate the incredible industry that our membership represents. Congratulations for what you have done so far…and congratulations for what I know you will be doing in the future.

Our NJBankers team has responded in an exemplary way, providing invaluable insight and information to our membership on a daily basis. That doesn’t surprise any of us, as we know the John McWeeney and his team are always there for us. Our business partners have reached out to the industry providing timely assistance as we battle to support our customers and communities. Thank you, all!

We will all get through this… we will all have “war stories” to tell… and we will all demonstrate just how great and valuable  an industry we are!

 I wish you all the best! Stay healthy! Stay Safe!!